"My goal is to tell as many police officers as I can that I love them, and I am thankful for all they do for us." So said 10-year-old Savannah Solis to officers at a New York City precinct this week. Savannah is from Tyler, Texas, where her father is a pastor. When she learned about the shooting deaths of two New York Police Department officers last December, she painted and decorated 200 homemade thank you notes to give them.
One of our Cultural Commentary readers shared with me the rest of the story. He is a good friend of the Solis family, and was moved by Savannah's kindness. So he connected her with a NYPD officer he knew. During their conversation, she prayed for him. He was so moved, he spoke with other officers about her.
NYPD officers then raised money to invite her to New York, and JetBlue covered her family's flight. A ceremony was arranged for her to address the officers. She told them: "To my heroes, I want to say, 'Don't stop. Please don't give up.' Many do not care or appreciate the sacrifices you make every day, but I do. . . . Officers of New York City, you matter to me. Officers all across America, you matter to me."
Savannah has declined sightseeing and all television interviews. Instead, she says, "I want to see more police stations." JetBlue will fly her in the future to London, where she will meet police officers there. She has been invited to Los Angeles, Toronto, and Australia as well.
A high school senior in Wichita, Kansas is also making news today. Emily Jones asked her school principal, Sherman Padgett, to hold an empty bucket as part of a senior prank. He was reluctant, but eventually agreed. Then student after student came by, dropping notes of thanks and praise into the bucket. One said, "Thank you for making high school the best years of my life." Another recalled how Padgett "helped me get through my eating disorder and helped me get into therapy."
The principal, who has served at the school since 2006, was deeply moved. "Became a little emotional on some of them," he said. "I kind of read them and thought, 'man, this is better than a paycheck. This is why I do the things that I do.'"
Savannah and Emily give us reason for hope. And they show us that our future is as promising as the young people who will inherit it. (Tweet this)
Paul encouraged Christians living in dark times, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). We are to follow the example of the One who touched leprous bodies to touch leprous souls, who opened blind eyes to open blind hearts. Now Jesus calls us his "body" (1 Corinthians 12:27). What he did, we are to do. And when we do, they will know we are Christians by our love (John 13:35).
The reader who shared Savannah's story with me concluded, "Please pray for Savannah as she is a beacon of light in times of darkness." So let's pray for Savannah, and ask God how we can follow her example today. As she proves, one person's kindness can touch the world.
Publication date: March 5, 2015
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